Editor’s Note: #CanCon

On November 5, 2012, I sent an email to a group of women with the subject line: “A semi-formed idea.” Would people be interested in starting a film journal, one centred on feminism? This was the ask. Everyone said yes. Over the next six years, that semi-formed idea would become cléo journal. It would become […]

Expanding the Canon: The Cinema of Michka Saäl

“She really was an unfortunately overlooked director.” Charlotte Selb, a colleague, wrote this in an email to me nearly a year ago. The filmmaker she was referring to was Michka Saäl, who had passed away suddenly after a quick illness in 2017. “As a woman, an immigrant and just somebody who wasn’t much of a […]

“Curiosity is a good thing”: An Interview with Agnès Varda

For some 50 years, Agnès Varda has worked and lived in the 14th arrondissement in Paris, in a pink-painted atelier on rue Daguerre. (Her love of this milieu is well-known: she documented her fellow inhabitants of the small street in 1976’s Daguerréotypes, and in 2003 filmed a short surrealist rom-com, Le Lion Volatil, around the iconic […]

Discourses of Desire in Claire Denis’ Vendredi soir

Claire Denis’ latest film Let the Sunshine In, which follows the failed attempts at finding love by a middle-aged woman (tour de force Juliette Binoche), has been dubbed the “most empathic, heartfelt film of [Denis’] illustrious career.”[i] On account of its more tender subject matter, it’s also being hailed by some as a departure for […]

Editor’s Note: Firsts

First off: a note of thanks. Thanks to the incredible women who give so much to this journal: Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Mallory Andrews, Lydia Ogwang, Kathleen Kampeas-Rittenhouse. Thanks to Jovana Jankovic who copy edits our issues, Cathleen Evans who curates our newsletter, and Calina Ellwand and Bianca Huang for their fundraising work. Thanks to our contributors […]

Women to Watch: Sofia Bohdanowicz

Firsts are often thought to belong to the young: first steps, first word, first day of school, first kiss, first heartbreak. In this way, firsts are synonymous with novelty, momentous events that become less and less frequent—or at least less publicly lauded—as time passes. It’s a logic that emphasizes youth and calcifies the assumption that […]

Editor’s Note: LOL!

In 2005, like a dutiful teen with a disposable income, I saw Mr. & Mrs. Smith in theatres. What I remember most—more than the chemistry between a pre-Brangelina Brad and Angie and any specific plot points—was a stranger who advised me after my reaction to one particularly goofy scene, “You need to learn how to laugh.” I’m […]

Editor’s Note: Risk

Three years ago, a group of women decided that starting a feminist film journal was a risk they wanted to take. They were willing to put their names behind something that would call out sexism, critique the industry they worked in, and do it all on the internet, a place that’s never been friendly to […]

Editor’s Note: Grace

“In this film I wanted to say the sum of who we become is thanks to the people we meet.” – Danielle Arbid on Parisienne (Peur de rien) In the aftermath of the bombings in Beirut and Paris, I found myself searching for something in the world that resembled beauty, kindness, and yes, grace. After […]

Between a Boxer and a Nun: An Interview with Geraldine Chaplin

“I’m very much in love with a Dominican woman.” “How old is she?” “I don’t know.” Like age, there’s a tendency to lie when it comes to love. We lie about expectations, motivations and transgressions. We lie to friends, family, and, more often than not, ourselves, which tends to lead to the most painful consequences. […]

Editor’s Note: Camp

The only thing worse than writing an editor’s note is writing an editor’s note in the summer. It’s the season for escaping to cabins in the woods, reading on beaches, drinking in parks, and making out with crushes on humid nights. It is, above all, a time for fun. And while we always take great […]

Holding Out for a Hero: Mad Max: Fury Road’s new action hero[ine]

“A man reduced to a single instinct: survive.” – Max “You want to get through this? Do as I say.” – Furiosa Not since Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954) has there been such a blissfully misleadingly titled movie as George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). In the former melodrama-Western fusion, the titular cowboy is […]

Editor’s Note: Boob Tube

Recently, on that social media site and time-suck known as Twitter, film critic Miriam Bale asked her female followers: “What is one of your earliest feminist stirrings from watching movies (or TV)?” The query was notable not only because of the swift responses (everything from the problematic ending of Grease to the pop power of […]

Editor’s Note: Party!

Can feminists party? The short answer is: yes, of course. No one but a Men’s Rights troll on Reddit would assume that the broad swath of women (and men) who adhere to the modern feminist movement don’t indulge in the deep-seated human need to have fun. But the longer answer is more complex, because the […]

Dream On: An Interview with Julie Taymor

“I have had a dream past the wit of man to say what dream it was.” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream  Julie Taymor deals in dreams. Her directorial works—which include the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of The Lion King (1997), her critically acclaimed feature film debut Titus (1999), and the Oscar-winning Frida (2002)—aren’t tied to […]

Editor’s Note: Labour

A few weeks back, I got into an argument about Marxism. Sitting on a park bench and enjoying the first warm evening of summer, the conversation with my friend turned to the state of capitalism. “Do you really think all this is going to disappear?” he asked, gesturing to the omnipresent free market. No, I […]

Lady Liberty’s Labours: James Gray’s The Immigrant

How do you make it in America? Work. Work hard. Work harder. So goes the mantra upon which (until recently) the world’s greatest economy and dominant culture was built. But while work will supposedly set you free, what will it cost? Or, at what point does making it—to that ever-moving, unattainable finish line—mean breaking yourself? […]

Editor’s Note: Crave

“I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ha.” – Spice Girls As far as expressions of cravings go, the Spice Girls nailed it back in 1996. In their debut single, “Wannabe,” the girls gleefully barked out the above chorus before devolving into gibberish. What better way is […]

Thin skinned

“So be it. This is what I really want. This is the one thing I want. I want to be thin.” – Alisa It’s pizza day at Renfrew, a Florida-based inpatient eating disorder clinic, and no one is happy. A group of women sit around a table silently, eyeing the greasy slices and picking at their […]

Editor’s Note: Doom

“Where have all the interesting women gone?” -Nina Power, One Dimensional Woman (2009) Is feminism doomed? It would seem as much, based on the watered-down, easily marketable form of post-feminism that dominates the media landscape. Sheryl Sandberg’s neo-liberal, capitalist Lean In is being touted as the manual of modern feminism; Noah Baumbach’s charming but ultimately […]

“Anger is part of my relation to the world”: An Interview with Claire Denis

Claire Denis has never shied away from monsters. While her work is described as sensual and erotic (both true), her films are never sentimental. They are complex, engaging with the fact that life, while often beautiful, is also harsh, cruel, and painful. This pain has been explored in relation to colonial history (Chocolat, 1988), the […]

Editor’s Note: Home

“You think you had it rough? I didn’t find this place, I had to build it.” -Vienna (Joan Crawford), Johnny Guitar The word “home” conjures images of an ethereal space, with pies on windowsills and white lace curtains blowing in the breeze. It’s where the heart is. Yet as Vienna reminds us in Nicholas Ray’s […]

Housekeeping and Other Feudalisms: An Interview with Athina Rachel Tsangari

Profiles inherently require attempts at classification. In the case of cinema, directors, stars, and their films are most frequently fitted into tidy categories of genre and nationality in order to place them in relation to a broader, exterior context. It is an attempt to point to where they came from—their homes, as it were—in order […]

Editor’s Note: Flesh

“People who say, ‘Why do women make films like this?’ still think that women don’t have vast territories to explore.” – Claire Denis on Trouble Every Day (2001) cléo was born of a rather inauspicious email. Last year I sent out a call to several writers with the subject line, “A semi-formed idea.” What followed […]

Haywire’s Body Talk

“Hey Wonder Woman, you said your piece. Now sit back and shut up.” Spoken by a portly cop mid-way through Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 Haywire, the superhero being told to stay quiet is Mallory, played by Gina Carano. Handcuffed in the back of a police car, her character is an agent gone rogue, seeking revenge after […]